Cinema Review: Trouble with the Curve

DIR: Robert Lorenz • WRI: Randy Brown  PRO: Clint Eastwood, Robert
Lorenz, Michele Weiser • DOP:  Tom Stern • ED: Joel Cox, Gary Roach • DES:
James J Murakami  • Cast: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake,
John Goodman

When Clint Eastwood stepped out in front of the camera for 2008’s
excellent Gran Torino (which he, of course, also directed), it was
assumed that it was to be his acting farewell, and given how memorable
a character Walt Kowalski was, it is easy to see why.

Indeed, the man himself had intended to stay behind the camera (he has
directed Invictus, Hereafter and J. Edgar in the meantime), but the
postponement of his planned A Star Is Born remake with Beyonce Knowles
has freed him to star in his long-term collaborator Robert Lorenz’s
debut feature Trouble with the Curve.

In many ways, Clint’s involvement with this film sees him coming full
circle, because whereas it has now become the norm to expect him to
direct rather than act, Trouble with the Curve finds him acting in a
film that he didn’t also helm for the first time since Wolfgang
Petersen’s In the Line of Fire back in 1993.

The four-time Academy Award winner stars as Gus, a veteran baseball
scout who is under pressure to deliver the goods on his latest
scouting mission, as he silmutaneously attempts to hide his
deteriorating eye sight from his employers. Concerns about his
condition leads to his boss, and best friend, Pete Klein (John
Goodman) sending Gus’ high-flying lawyer daughter (Amy Adams) along
with him on his latest trip.

It is here that we get a real sense of the estrangement between the
two, and as they struggle to get along, Justin Timberlake crops up as
a former hot-shot college player turned Boston Red Sox scout, who
re-connects with his one-time recruiter Gus, as well as becoming a
potential love interest for Adams’ Mickey.

To compare Eastwood’s performance here to what we saw four years ago
in Gran Torino is perhaps unfair, as it would be asking a lot to
expect him to deliver the goods to the same extent this time around.
It doesn’t shy away from dealing with serious and sensitive subject
matters, though, as Gus’ inability to catch the action as it happens
become a central point in the drama.

Lorenz, who has worked on a total of 16 Eastwood films in a variety of
roles, approaches the job of directing in the same kind of unfussy and
leisurely manner that has become a trademark of his mentor in the past
few decades. There are also some nice touches to Randy Brown’s script,
but it does suffer from having a somewhat predictable and unremarkable
story.

However, if you are an Eastwood fan (and despite his bizarre episode
with an empty chair a few months ago at a Republican Party Convention,
a large number of people are), it is hard not to find some sort of
charm in the way the film is played out, especially when Eastwood’s
grizzled presence is balanced out with Adams’ endless charm.

The Unforgiven star’s iconic status has been there for all to see
since the Dollars Trilogy back in the 1960s, but equally Adams is one
of the finest young actresses working in Hollywood today, and can
currently be seen in scene-stealing form in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The
Master.

Timberlake shows once again that he is a very solid screen actor, and
it is refreshing to see that his character is the one with the
supporting romantic angle, as that is a burden that is so often left
at the door of an actress. Goodman is fresh from an excellent role of
his own in Ben Affleck’s Argo, and you are left to wonder why himself
and Eastwood haven’t worked together before now, as they have a very
easy chemistry with each other.

With small but pivotal characters also played by Matthew Lillard, Bob
Gunton and Robert Patrick, Trouble with the Curve never stretches
itself too far, and if it is a long way from the classic Clint of the
past, it is still something of a pleasure to see the great man on the
big screen once again.

Daire Walsh

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)

111 mins
Trouble with the Curve  is released on 30th November 2012

Trouble with the Curve – Official Website

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